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Traditional Method of Coconut Oil Extraction: Asha Devi Varma’s Quest to revive it

Asha Devi Varma, a retired agricultural officer in Kerala, is trying to revive the traditional method of coconut oil extraction.

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Asha Devi Varma at her residence in Kerala. Image Source : thehindu.com
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  • Asha Devi Varma, a retired officer in Kerala, is trying to revive the traditional method of coconut oil extraction
  • She is doing so with the help of advice from doctors and Ayurveda experts and local women who help her with daily preparations
  • Her business is small but the products are highly recommended by doctors

In the recent years, the growing demand of coconut and the health benefits attached to it has led companies experiment with it and make it fancier day by day. The coconut products have become commercialized to a large extent- seasoning for desserts, for making quirky cocktails, drinks- commercialization has made everything profitable for the coconut industry. However, the original process of extracting virgin coconut oil has almost disappeared from the households of Kerala.

Asha Devi Varma is a retired agricultural officer who is attempting to revive the natural process of coconut oil extraction in Kerala. Previously, women used to process coconut to extract the virgin oil naturally at home through a process called velichenna kaachiyathu which protected the goodness of the oil.

Coconut oil, extracted naturally. Image Source : thehindu.com
Coconut oil, extracted naturally. Image Source : thehindu.com

After having retired from service, Asha Devi was not ready to live the life of a retiree. She wanted to do something to make a difference. She went over to young housewives and asked them if they knew the process of extracting coconut oil from coconuts. She was surprised to discover that none of the women of the current generation know anything about the process of extraction. “It came as a surprise to me but none of the women from this generation knew the way coconut oil is extracted traditionally, something that their grandmothers would have done routinely,” said Asha to The Hindu. So she contacted some elderly ladies and Ayurveda experts to get a firsthand experience of the process.

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After having learnt the process, she brought in young ladies from the local area to start learning it. The initial phase was difficult since it was a delicate process and it was impossible to get it right on the first try. So, the phase of trial and error went on for some time until the art was perfected by them. Now, Asha Devi and her local women prepare homemade baby oil, cooking oil and beauty oil and sell, locally. She gets about 10-12 litres of coconut oil shipped from Lakshadweep to Kerala. Her business has become quite successful.

Coconut milk. Image Source : coconut-info.net
Coconut milk. Image Source : coconut-info.net

Even though her business is small, it is highly recommended by doctors for babies and their mothers. “Coconut milk has contents that are found in mother’s milk. Its properties are good for hair and skin,” Asha Devi told The Hindu. She further asserted regarding the coconut oil, that, “A couple of spoons taken orally is supposed to heal the body after childbirth. The beauty oil gives a healthy skin. This is traditional knowledge”.

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Asha Devi is thrilled at the way her business is progressing. Her happiness is not just because of the profits or contacts that they are gaining but it is partly because she has succeeded in reviving the traditional method of coconut oil extraction and processing. Her initiative and perseverance are commendable, indeed.

-prepared by Atreyee Sengupta, an intern at NewsGram.

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A Chit Fund Scheme By KSFE Will Be Inaugurated By CM In UAE Next Month

Programme enables person who joins to complete every process online

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A Chit Fund Scheme By KSFE Will Be Inaugurated By CM In UAE Next Month
A Chit Fund Scheme By KSFE Will Be Inaugurated By CM In UAE Next Month, flickr

The Kerala government’s dream programme to raise money from its diaspora through “chitties”, or a chit fund scheme launched by state-run Kerala State Financial Enterprise (KSFE), will be inaugurated by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan in UAE next month, Finance Minister Thomas Issac said on Monday.

In an interaction with editors of the Kerala media, he said all the requisite permissions have been obtained from all authorities.

“This programme was initiated by the previous UDF government and the permission to go ahead came at its fag end. After we came to power, we took this forward and all permissions and sanctions are ready and all those diaspora who wish to participate in it can join,” said Issac.

“On June 12, Vijayan will launch the registration process and all those who wish to enter the scheme can register in the KSFE site. Once Vijayan launches the programme in UAE, next month, the chitty scheme will be open,” he added.

Coins
Coins, Pixabay

KSFE Chairman Philipose Thomas said to start with, those who wish to participate can contribute monthly as low as Rs 3,000 to a high of Rs 25,000.

“The duration of the chitty given the nature of the job scenario in the Middle East is kept from a minimum of 30 months to a maximum of 60 months. Once a diaspora member joins he can pay the monthly contribution through his non-resident ordinary account and at the end of the chitty term, the payment will be made to his non-resident ordinary account,” he said.

“The programme enables each person who joins the chitty to complete every process online, which includes even bidding, and at the end of the period, the money will be credited into their bank account. Every aspect of the online process has been tested,” said Unni Krishnan who heads the technology division of the chitty scheme.

The entire programme is being handled by the Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board, a government-owned financial institution meant to mobilize funds for infrastructure development outside state revenue.

Its Chief Executive K.M. Abraham, who is a former state Chief Secretary, said that no one needs to donate anything, but only to join a chitty where the money collected will be deposited in bonds and used for the state’s development needs.

“At the end of the chitty, it’s a win-win situation for both the person who joined the chitty and for the state government,” he added.

Kerala CM, Pinarayi Vijayan with PM Narendra Modi
Kerala CM, Pinarayi Vijayan with PM Narendra Modi, flickr

Also read: Reliance home finance celebrates 46 growth in income

According to the latest study report on the diaspora, 90 per cent of 23.63 lakh Keralites aboard are in the various Middle East countries, of which UAE accounts for 38.7 per cent, followed by Saudi Arabia with 25.2 per cent. (IANS)